Matthew 11:10 - Preparing The Way For/Helping Others (Bible Journal)
"John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ’Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you (Matthew 11:10 NLT).'"
John the Baptist prepared others for Jesus, and despite the grisly fate that awaited him, now has eternal reverence for his work. It is humbling and empowering to be called to serve the Lord in ways that could also prepare someone else to receive Him. We may or may not ever be remembered forever like John the Baptist in this world, but if our actions help at least one person, I think that would be more than enough to please God.
Lord, thank You for not only helping me to connect with You through these journals, but for also giving me the potential to bring someone to You through them. It would be amazing if the words You have given me to write would last forever, but if they help at least one person at the very least, that would be an honor. Please use the words You give me to help others, and please help me to assist others through my actions too. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
The devil thought he won when Jesus died, but he was wrong. It was just the beginning. And he's been getting his butt kicked ever since.
We are God's children. If the devil wants us, well... he can't have us. Which is why he is on a rampage, trying and failing to get every child he can. But God's children were selected before the foundation of the world. It doesn't matter where you are right now in your life, if you're God's, He is going to get you one way or another, even if you're kicking and screaming the whole way. God won't give up on you because you are His child. Just as a good father wouldn't abandon his child to darkness, He is not going to abandon you.
If God is for us, then who can be against us?
This world is literally designed to destroy Christians. Everywhere we turn, even if it's just going to the store, evil lurks. Temptations lurk. It's everywhere. It's on the radio. It's on TV. It's on our phones. It's easier than ever to fall into sin.
But those filled with His Holy Spirit, that small elect few, are standing strong. We can't fail. God called us before the foundation of the world. We are His bride. He doesn't want Heaven without us. That's why He died for us. He just wants us. He just wants you. He has provided a way for you. He has been calling you. Gently knocking on your heart.
Will you answer Him?
If you've questioned, "Is He real?"... I want you to know that the devil didn't put that thought in your head. He doesn't want you wondering about God. He wants us to condemn and frown upon Him. The devil wants us to believe God is uncaring and nothing more than a dictator.
But that question... "Is He real?"
That wouldn't be there if God wasn't calling you. It couldn't be there.
If He is calling you, He isn't going to yell at you. It's a gentle knocking on your heart. A gentle voice.
Will you follow Me?
Matthew 5:46 - Love To All (Bible Journal)
"If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much (Matthew 5:46 NLT)."
Jesus' lesson from Matthew 5:46 is worth revisiting often. It is 100% easy to love on those that treat us with love. Those that aren't as kind to us.... is another story. In those situations, it is easy to not only not act as loving towards those folks, but even dislike them. With the way we sin and fall short as imperfect humans, I feel like it would be easy for God to dislike us. But not only does He love us anyway, He even offered us a way back to Him through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.
Lord, as always thank You for humbling me with today's Scripture. Thank You for loving me despite my messiness. In Your honor, please help me to love on others more, especially those that challenge me. Please help me to be better about making more time for You in this new week as well. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Philippians 3:13 - Still Far From Perfection (Bible Journal)
"No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13 NLT),"
I recently wrote a journal for Philippians 3 (https://theprose.com/post/502000/philippians-3-12-13-growing-through-imperfection-to-the-future-bible-journal), and as I write a new journal on Philippians 3 and look back on this past week, I find myself reflecting on the times I fell short, and the missed opportunities to spend more time in His Word and in journals/devotionals written by fellow believers. I could grow exponentially as a Christian and as a human, and Paul's words from Philippians 3 will still ring true. That's ok though, as a gamer that is used to having to level up before finishing the game, I am absolutely good with striving to improve spiritually while counting on God to help me get better at living in my faith. I don't have to beat myself up over the failures and the missed opportunities of this past week, I can look ahead to a new week and work on doing better this go round. One way to really make some headway will be by making more time for praying and listening for guidance from the Father in this upcoming seven day journey.
Lord, thank You for the many ways You make Yourself available to me, and for the opportunities You give me to live a life of faith. Thank You for forgiving me for the times I fail to get involved in these opportunities, and for the gift of another try (or an extra life in gaming terms). Please help me to be able to look back on the week coming up and end it by being able to say that I improved spiritually, and also grew closer to You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Philippians 4:8 - Thought Life (Bible Journal)
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8 NLT)."
Maintaining a positive thought life can be very challenging. It is easy to criticize those we disagree with or have been hurt by, and it's even easier to get down on ourselves. Moments of stress and exhaustion can bring out these negative thinking patterns even more. Paul gives solid advice on where we should direct our thinking in Philippians 4:8, and stopping ourselves in moments of weakness and visiting these Scripture verses could be a great way to get our thinking lives back on track.
Lord, thank You for the reminder to cultivate good thoughts. Please help me to find the balance of not being toxically positive, but also not staying in a negative space either. Help me to process my thoughts realistically, while also catching myself before I become overly critical of others and/or myself. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Matthew 4:2 - Not Quite On The Fast Track For Fasting (Bible Journal)
"For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry (Matthew 4:2 NLT)."
I recently heard a sermon at my church about the importance of fasting, and I was inspired to work it into my spiritual journey. Well so far I have not been able to skip a meal without snacking in its place. I have found that I am very good at justifying not fasting by making my upcoming seasonal (second) job an excuse to not skip meals in order to avoid getting too tired during this hectic time of year. Yet Jesus went forty days and nights fasting, while I can't skip one measly meal. I am humbled and reminded that I need His help to be able to get into this practice, and who better than someone who lived through the temptation Himself?
Thank You Lord for showing me how much I need You, including falling short at fasting. Like it was suggested to me at church, please help me to make a small commitment to begin, and please help me to grow closer to You as a result. Please soften my heart and never let me take for granted how good I have it, and please guide me to ways I can help those that fast without a choice in the matter. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Matthew 5:9 - Peace To You, Reader (Bible Journal)
"God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9 NLT)."
The world is troubled, and a few minutes on social media alone can bring out instant hopelessness. But God has given us the ability to make a difference by promoting peace through kind actions, which can be as simple as making a Facebook post that is empathetic and caring. Our efforts may appear small in a world filled with conflict, but every little bit helps. And the more people that contribute their pieces of peace, the nicer our world becomes.
Lord, thank You for empowering us to promote peaceful living, and thank You for reminding me of its importance today. Please help me to build someone up, and please let those efforts point back to You for the glory. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
1 John 5:21 - The Source And The Gifts (Bible Journal)
"Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts (1 John 5:2 NLT)."
There is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the things of this world if our attitudes toward these things line up with gratitude to God. I consider many of my favorite things (gaming, anime, books, stories, hockey, music) to be gifts from God, and we can definitely see God's mark in some of the secular entertainment out there if we seek it. Today's verse reminds me that the things of the world are dangerous when they are appreciated more than God. I think God does want us to enjoy the wonders of this world as long as we acknowledge that it is all from Him, including the people He has sent to make the art and passions that we love.
Lord, thank You for the wonderful pleasures and gifts You have given us to enjoy in our lives. I apologize for the times that I have put these things over You, including missing out on time I could spend with You after getting distracted. Please help me to balance time for prayer, fellowship and studying with You along with enjoying the treats You bring us here, and please help me to always acknowledge You as the ultimate source of it all. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Ephesians 3:8 & 12 - Empowered For God’s Work (Bible Journal)
"Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence (Ephesians 3:8, 12 NLT)."
No matter how down we get on ourselves, or how weak we may think we are, accepting Jesus' death and resurrection will cover the payment we owe God for our sins in order to restore our relationship with Him, and will also empower us to serve others in His name. The Bible has many stories of weak people that He utilized for His glory and purposes, and we can be part of that same purpose today. If you don't feel confident that you're up for a challenge God may be calling you to, remember that God has a long history of empowering the weak, and we can count on Him being with us every step of the way.
Lord, thank You for using those that could be considered weak, including this guy right here (pointing at self). Please help me to continue cultivating my prayer life, and help me to remember that I can acknowledge Your presence anytime by praying to You whenever I decide. Thank You for always being available and willing to be there when I cry out. I look forward to getting to know You more Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Ephesians 6:4 - Prayers For Raising A Teen (Bible Journal)
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)."
As a father to a teenager, I am finding that it is easy to provoke my teen to anger, even without intending to. As frustrating as it can be, I do also acknowledge that there are times when my own anger gets the best of me, and I wind up saying things that I wish I hadn't. Today's Scripture is a good reminder for me to examine the struggles of raising a teenager, admitting where I am the problem, and working on doing better.
Lord, thank You for humbling me in a situation where I can use it. Please guide my teenager through the struggles of adolescence, and please help me to do better as a guide, mentor, father, and friend. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.